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The Battle of Bennington. 



AN ADDRESS BEFORE THE 



Vermont Historical Society 



BY 



HENRY D. HALL. 



Delivered in the Representatives' Hall, Montpelier, 



NOVEMBER 5, 18%. 



£_ 2,4/ 








1 1 tip 






MAP OF BENNINGTON BATTLE. 

See pp. 33-70. 

The river was by mistake called Hosack and there was no indication of the points of the com- 
pass, otherwise the above is an exact copy, reduced, of the map in Burgoyne's State of the Expe- 
dition. The letter press is, of course, British. For "American Volunteers" read Tories. The 
expression, "Bodies of the Enemy" means Forces of Gen. Stark. The word "Walmscock" 
means Walloomsac. 



Mr. President and members of the Vermont Histori- 
cal Society , and Ladies and Gentlemen : 

The attempt of Hon. S. D. Locke in the April, 1892, 
number of the "National Magazine of American His- 
tory," to change the long established and accepted facts 
connected with the Battle of Bennington, is a marked 
specimen of perseverance in the perversion of history. 
That those unacquainted with all the facts, who may not 
have easy access to the history made and noted at the 
time, or shortly after its happening, may fully under- 
stand it, a review of the article at some length may not 
be inappropriate. While sometimes it may appear to the 
conservative mind to be too aggressive, considering the 
long quiet which has reigned between the "Grants and 
the Yorkers," the excuse is, that the provocation has been 
given and can only be fairly met by considering some 
things, that by common consent have for many years 
been left to rest, and it has been hoped might remain 
forever in repose. And, though matters may be 
treated which had better not be, except for the challenge 
offered and in the interest of a proper understanding of 
all the facts in their several bearings, still will it be in a 
spirit of fairness, and with a desire to allay rather than 
to foster division and prejudice. The endeavor will be 
before closing, to leave nothing about the story of the 
battle, but truth relieved of theory and imagination. 

The paper begins with stating, that, "much that has 
been written as history, even by our best equipped 
writers, is confused with error or quite false." And, 
as illustrating his meaning by conspicuous examples, 
he quotes from Bryant's History, and the American Cy- 

3 



34 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

clopedia. The vital error among the so styled, "medley 
of errors," in the opinion of Mr. Locke, must be the ty- 
pographical one, where "at" is put for "near," thus chang- 
ing the locality, as it should read near Bennington. For 
surely he cannot think it much of an error for the victors to 
be called "New Hampshire militia," when Gen. Stark's 
brigade must have been nearly two-thirds of the army 
under him, and as he seems very willing at all times to 
have it understood, that few Vermont or Bennington 
men had a share in the Battle of Bennington, so-called 
in history for one hundred fifteen years. That "no trace 
now remains to indicate the precise locality of the en- 
gagement" is substantially correct, for there is nothing 
of the entrenchments or marks of any excavations to show 
where they were located. It is true the hill in its posi- 
tion and the stream running at its base, are as they were 
at the time of the battle, but in order to locate as nearly 
as possible the camp and breastworks of Baum, and the 
site of the Tory breastworks, to place markers upon 
them, a survey was made some ten years ago, "by some 
enterprising citizens of Bennington," of whom the writer 
was one, carrying the surveyor's chain up the steep em- 
bankment from the river. Fighting was done over 
ground covering a distance of two or three miles, and 
all marks of the "precise locality of any engagement," 
have long since disappeared. 

Mr. Locke says, with reference to history being "con- 
fused with error," it "seems particularly true of the 
accounts that come to us as the accepted history of 
'Burgoyne's expedition to the left,' including 'the two 
battles, one with Baum and one with Breyman,'" and, 
"the story is plain how Baum's five or six hundred men, 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 35 

(reliable history makes them seven or eight hundred) , 
taken in the rear so that their redoubts counted for 
nothing, after a desperate conflict, lasting from three to 
five o'clock, were beaten by Stark's eighteen to twenty- 
two hundred militia." It certainly is strange, that the 
situation of the contending forces is not better under- 
stood by those who write about it, and from these intima- 
tions, it is not so very wonderful that errors do creep 
into history, and wrong impressions are often given. 
Baum was located on a hill with a steep embankment 
three or four hundred feet high looking to the east, up 
the road which Stark was expected to advance upon, at 
the foot of which was the Walloomsac river, making it 
quite impossible for an attack on his front. Having 
little or no fear of the enemy from that direction, he 
stationed some Chasseurs at the foot of the hill on the 
left, where the river turns to the south at nearly a right 
angle, to guard the approach from the north side if the 
foe should cross the stream near that point. The "Tory 
breastwork" had been erected on his right, sixty or 
eighty rods to the south-east, on rising ground in the 
direction of Stark's encampment, manned by Peter's 
Corps of Provincials. *On both sides of the road at the 
bridge at the foot of the hill on the right, between his 
camp and the Tory breastworks, had been built lesser 
fortifications occupied by Canadian Rangers and German 
Grenadiers, while west on the Sancoick road had been 
located bodies of men with cannon, as though Stark 
would advance only from the east, and if he forced these 
different positions would be met and put to rout before 
getting to his rear. To make all secure, Baum took 

*(See Durnford's map). 



36 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

another precaution, and built "breastworks of earth and 
timber" during the rainy day and night of the 15th, 
looking west or in the rear of his camp, and which 
would only be of use in case the Americans out-flanked 
him, and then the works would be in his front, for pro- 
tection. The skillful Stark out-generaled him and be- 
fore there had been any movements, observable, but 
marching and counter marching in his front, "to amuse 
Baum as Stark said," Colonels Nichols and Herrick, by 
long marches around either flank, had come up in his rear 
at three p. m., and joining their forces made the attack. 
Then, "the redoubts" did count for all that could be ex- 
pected, but the discipline and the valor of Baum's men 
could not withstand the courage and impetuosity of the 
Americans, and they were overpowered. 

It should not be forgotten in treating this subject that 
a feeling had grown out of the difficulties arising from 
the tenure in which the lands of many of the inhabitants 
of the "grants" had been held, and that the stand taken 
by New York in regard to them did engender such a 
spirit as made them jealous of Vermont's prestige, and 
indifferent to, or against defending, what she felt inter- 
ested in sustaining. This bias was shown more partic- 
ularly in the frontier towns previously and up to the 
time when Burgoyne made his "diversion to the left," 
sending Baum under a command to take Bennington. 

It is not the intention to launch out upon imagination 
and theory, throwing aside established history, as an 
examination of the "Battle of Walloomsac" will evi- 
dence has been done in reference to many incidents of 
the battle, but to see if Gen. Stark and Bennington 
should really be taken into account in the transactions 




THE CATAMOUNT TAVERN. 



Here were the headquarters of the "Green Mountain Boys" when they met to devise 
plans for the protection of their families and their once paid for homes from the rapacity 
of the land jobbers and speculators of New York, known to them as "Yorkers." In tins 
tavern, also, was the room which was occupied for years by the Vermont Council of 
Safety. The sign was a stuffed catamount skin, upon a high pole, with jaws grinning 
towards New York. The tavern was built about 1769 and destroyed bv fire March ^0, 
1871, 



ADDRESS I "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON. ' ^7 

of the memorable 16th of August, 1777. Mr. Locke 
says "there was no engagement in Bennington," No 
well informed person claims there was. It is not sup- 
posed there were any of Baum's men in Bennington 
except as prisoners of war, as Stark did not intend 
there should be, and he succeeded in keeping them "at 
bay,'"' unless in skirmishing on the 14th or 15th some 
might have crossed the line separating New York from 
Vermont. He further says, "there was no retreat of 
Baum's detachment after his defeat, but it was annihi- 
lated." This is only an assertion made to sustain a 
theory. What say those who were engaged in the 
affair, and would be likely to know more about it? 
Gen. Stark says, in a letter to the Committee of Safety 
of New Hampshire, two days after the battle, "at sun- 
set we obliged them to retreat a second time," There 
is no other meaning to this assertion than that there had 
been a retreat of the first detachment under Baum. 
Jesse Field, whom the writer remembers, says in a 
manuscript statement given Gov. Hiland Flail, author 
of the "Early History of Vermont," and for years Pres- 
ident of the Vermont Historical Society, with reference 
to the retreat after the first engagement, "I should think 
I did not continue in the pursuit over half a mile, though 
some parties went farther." Secretary Fay, of the Coun- 
cil of Safety, says in a letter written August 16th at six 
o'clock p. m., "Stark is now in an action. . . . The 
enemy were driven about a mile, but being reinforced 
made a second stand, and still continue the conflict." 
Thomas Mellen, a soldier in the battle, to James Davie 
Butler says, "We pursued till we met Breyman with 
eight hundred fresh troops and larger cannon, which 



38 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

opened a fire of grape shot." Breyman, in his letter to 
Lord George Germain, August 20th, 1777, says, "The 
Indians made good their retreat from the first affair, as 
did Capt. Frazer with part of his company, and many 
of the provincials and Canadians." 

Mr. Locke says, "he resides less than one and a half 
miles from where Breyman was defeated, and has been 
critically over both fields many times." Others had been 
over the w T hole ground scores of years before he con- 
templated visiting it, or before his birth, to obtain all the 
facts connected with the movements of the men on both 
sides, and by them the history of the battle was written 
years ago. Among these was the before mentioned Gov. 
Hiland Hall, who was born in 1795, but eighteen years 
after the battle was fought, and within less than three 
miles of the field, and who often visited the memorable 
ground in company with those who were in the battle 
and did not leave the field until the last of Breyman's 
reinforcements were on their way to the camp of Bur- 
goyne, on the Hudson. Mr. Hall, who made history a 
study from his childhood, was greatly interested in the 
war of the revolution, and especially in the trials of the 
early settlers of the New Hampshire grants, and no less 
in the Battle of Bennington, which turned so effectually 
the tide of British victories. In personal conversation 
on the battlefield with surviving soldiers he learned, as 
none others could without such opportunities, the posi- 
tions of the enemy, and preserved in writing the most 
important facts of both engagements as reported by the 
men who took part in them. His understanding and 
account, though differing much from that of Mr. Locke 
in reference to these engagements, has been received 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 39 

and quoted for years as worthy of confidence, and in a 
measure authoritative. A remarkable occasion, and as 
showing his interest in the revolutionary soldier, he had 
as guests to dinner, on the 14th of August, 1840, sixty- 
three years after the battle, at his home, at that time in 
Bennington Centre, sixteen of the surviving heroes, 
several of whom were in the Battle of Bennington, the 
eldest being ninety years old, and the average of all 
reaching eighty years. 

It will not, perhaps, add weight to these thoughts to 
say the writer of this article lives within a mile of the 
encampment of Gen. Stark, which he left on the 16th at 
the head of the New Hampshire, Massachusetts and 
Vermont troops, mostly militia, including Colonels War- 
ner, Herrick and Brush as officers, each of Benning- 
ton, with many undisciplined men, 'tis true, and with ref- 
erence to whom Mr. Locke says: "Bennington col- 
lected two companies of unorganized militia of about 
one hundred men in both,* but without a man whose 
name has appeared in the history of the action." Does 
he mean to cast a sneer on the fidelity, fame or patriot- 
ism of the unnamed in history of the rank and file of 
Bennington militia, who risked their lives on that event- 
ful day, and some of whom were carried to their homes 
after the battle, cold and silent in death? It might not 
seem generous to think it of him, though the insinua- 
tion may, perhaps, warrant such a rendering. But his- 
tory does record the names of "four of Bennington's 
most respected Citizens, who fell on that field of battle : 
John Fay (son of Stephen), Henry Walbridge (brother 
of Ebenezer), Daniel Warner (cousin of the Colonel), 

* The rolls of the two companies show over one hundred fifty men. 



40 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

and Nathan Clark (son of Nathan and brother of 
Isaac). They were all in the prime of life and all heads 
of families, leaving widows and children to mourn their 
sudden bereavement." If the proportion of Bennington 
men to the whole force under Gen. Stark, was as Mr. 
Locke seems constrained to make it, then the deaths on 
the American side would proportionally have been be- 
tween eighty and ninety, instead of thirty as it is recorded 
in history. What better praise could be bestowed on 
the Bennington heroes than Gen. Stark gave them when 
he wrote to Gen. Gates August 22nd, 1777, saying, "I 
then marched in company with Colonels Warner, . . . 
Herrick and Brush, ... I also sent Colonel Her- 
rick with three hundred men in the rear of their right, 
. in a few minutes the action began in general,, 
it lasted two hours, the hottest I ever saw in my life, 
. the enemy were obliged to give way. I gave 
orders to rally again, but in a few moments was in- 
formed that there was a large reinforcement, on their 
march, within two miles. Luckily for us, that moment 
Col. Warner's regiment (under Lieut. -Col. Samuel Saf- 
ford of Bennington) came up fresh, who marched on 
and began the attack afresh. ... I cannot partic- 
ularize any officers, as they all behaved with the great- 
est spirit and bravery. Col. Warner's superior skill in 
the action was of extraordinary service to me. I would 
be glad if he (a Bennington man) and his men (some 
of whom were Bennington men) could be recommended 
to Congress." 

Mr. Locke says, "These engagements at Walloomsac 
known in the current history as the Battle of Benning- 
ton, should be called the battle of Walloomsac," and 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 41 

gives his own views as to what should determine the 
name for a battle, and the precise place w r here a monu- 
ment to perpetuate a victory should be erected to be 
most appropriate, and hand down to posterity the gal- 
lant deeds of the actors, and inspire the noblest impulses 
for liberty, valor and patriotism. In his voluminous 
endeavor to answer Hon. B. H. Hall and others, in the 
"Troy Times" of December 9th, 1891, he makes the 
statement nearly a score of times, adducing proof which 
would warrant calling it. "the battle of Sancoik," "Baum's 
defeat," "Breyman's disaster" or "battle of Hoosick," 
quite as much as the "battle of Walloomsac," but being- 
partial to "Walloomsac," he can see no good reason why 
it should have been called for over a century, "the Battle 
of Bennington." Gordon, in his "History of the Amer- 
ican Revolution" contemporaneous with the events nar- 
rated, published in London in 1788, in his comments upon 
and description of this battle, never so much as mentions 
the name "Walloomsac," but speaks of Bennington at 
least eight times in such ways as follows : "According 
to information, the Americans had a great deposit of corn, 
flour and store cattle at Bennington, which were guarded 
only by militia ;" "he therefore entertained the design 
of surprising the stores at Bennington." "And signal 
victory over the enemy in their lines at Bennington ;" 
"the severe check the enemy have met with at Benning- 
ton ;" "especially as the disaster at Bennington added to 
their delay ;" "but the Bennington affair put them in bet- 
ter spirits ;" "after the affair at Bennington," etc. All 
this, as though the distinguished historian had never heard 
of the river or farm Mr. Locke would now have the 
battle named after, and who we have no reason to sup- 



42 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

pose was biased in favor of or against New York or 
Vermont. It will be seen by referring to the map* that 
Mr. Locke speaks of as "calling the battlefield Walms- 
coik or Walloomsac," that in order to have it known in 
what part of North America it was located, "near Ben- 
nington" was wisely added, though it was suppressed in 
his reference to it. Gov. Clinton wrote within a week 
after Baura and Breyman were discomfitted, "Since the 
affair at Bennington not an Indian has been heard of; 
the scalping has ceased." 

Mr. Locke adopts a theory "that the name of the 
place where a battle is fought should be the name of the 
battle." Does he forget, when he is claiming so much, 
that he also says, "the last or decisive engagement when 
the largest number of the enemy were fighting was at 
Sancoik," and Breyman, he further says, "went no far- 
ther than Sancoik when he was defeated." He also says 
in this connection, "Sancoik was then a little hamlet 
nearly as large as Bennington." The last quotation is 
made that the reader ma}^ judge of the candor and in- 
genuousness exhibited in the efforts to make history after 
so long a lapse of time, by changing well authenticated 
and established facts. But the number of houses and 
size of the hamlet has far less to do with its importance 
and connection with the battle, in giving it a name, than 
the influence its stalwart men of brain, nerve and mus- 
cle had, who were engaged for years in making the his- 
tory of the embryo State of Vermont during the revolu- 
tionary period, and the difficulties of the early settlers 
with the State of New York, in its endeavor to eject 
them from their once paid for lands and homes. The 

*See Durnford's map. 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 43 

heroism, the self-sacrifice, and clear-headed common 
sense shown in their counsels, made them a power, and 
their conduct on the field, in which capacity they were 
so often called to act, not only for themselves and 
neighbors, but in the interest of the colonies, added 
greatly to their prowess, and gave them a name through 
all the land. 

But what does give the name to a battle, or has from 
time immemorial ? There has been no fixed rule for 
their naming, but like the naming of children, circum- 
stances and surroundings govern, and a name suggested 
by its adaptation to the event, meets the views of those 
concerned, and acquiescence determines it, and then 
David or Jonathan, Patience or Dorothy, battle of Ben- 
nington or Walloomsac, is the proper one, and becomes 
unchangeable after a period of one hundred and fifteen 
years. And the location of a monument depends upon 
the connection of what is to be perpetuated with the cir- 
cumstances which brought about the event or battle, or 
whatever may have taken place. Such ever has been 
the rule, and such undoubtedly always will be, although 
it does not meet with entire approbation in this case. 

In looking at the names given some of the fifteen "Bat- 
tles," which Prof. Cressey pronounces, "as having had 
the most decisive influence," what has given them their 
names ? Not always the field or ground upon which 
they w T ere fought, but other circumstances or reasons 
have determined many of them. Arbela has given the 
name "Battle of Arbela," to a battle fought (301 B. C.) 
between Alexander the Great and Darius, though in fact 
" the scene of the conflict was ' Gaugamela,' and it was 
only in the subsequent pursuit, that the conqueror arrived 



44 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

at Arbela, where Darius had left his baggage and treas- 
ure, forty to fifty miles distant." " Varu's defeat by the 
Germans, A. D. 9, in a battle near Kreutzberg, rolled 
back the tide of Roman conquest, and the battle was 
called ' Herman-Schlacht,' that is Herman's fight." The 
"battle of Blenheim did not actually take place here, 
but at a village in the vicinity called Hochstadt." 
This important battle was fought August 13th, 1704, 
when " France and Bavaria on the one hand with 56,000 
men, stood opposed to Holland, England, Austria, 
Savoy, Portugal and the German Empire on the other 
with 52,000 men commanded by Marlborough and 
Prince Eugene." The " battle of Poltova" was fought 
in 1709, "Poltova being famous as the scene of the defeat 
of Charles 12th, by Peter the Great, and a monument 
commemorating the victory ol the Czar stands in the 
principal square; while three miles from the town, a 
mound surmounted by a cross still known as the ' Swed- 
ish tomb' marks the battle field." The battle fought at 
Freehold, New Jersey, County of Monmouth, June 
28th, 1778, was styled, "The battle of Monmouth," and 
the name has since been acquiesced in, though it took 
the name of the county in which it was fought, rather 
than that of the town, or eminence or morass that figure 
so prominently in the historv of the battle. The battle 
of Waterloo and the Bunker Hill Monument have been 
sufficiently commented upon by others, showing that the 
battle ground of Waterloo is not located by the name, 
neither does the location of the monument on Breed's 
Hill determine the name of the battle fought on Breed's 
Hill. It would be equally pertinent and historically 
correct, to say, the battle of Bunker Hill fought on 



address: "the battle of bennington. 45 

Breed's Hill, Charlestown, or the battle of Bennington 
fought on the heights of the Walloomsac in Hoosick. 
Thus by these instances, which are only a few of those 
which might be cited, it is shown that many things enter 
into the giving of a name to a battle, or the location of 
a monument. 

Mr, Locke further says, in order to show that "Wal- 
loomsac" should be the name, "The people of Benning- 
ton, a third of a century thereafter, reapproved the ear- 
lier naming," and quotes the invitation to Gen. Stark to 
be present at a celebration, remarking "this invitation 
emphasizes two facts, first — That celebrations were held 
annually and on the battle field," "second — This invita- 
tion emphasizes also the fact that annual celebrations 
were not then state or town institutions." History, which 
is reliable, says the first anniversary of the battle was held 
in Bennington, August 16th, 1778, with an oration by 
Noah Smith, Esq., of Bennington, in which he spoke of 
the fight as "the Battle of Bennington," and yearly the 
eventful day was celebrated here until in 1802 there was 
a gathering on the battle ground and a sham-fight was 
had by the soldiery. Afterwards, until 1810, it was cel- 
ebrated in Bennington. This celebration was a Repub- 
lican gathering, as will be seen by the call as published 
in the newspaper of the time, which reads "The com- 
mittee solicit a general attendance of their Republican 
fellow citizens on the 16th of August next, at ten o'clock 
a. m., at the former headquarters of Gen. Stark near 
the dwelling house of Mr. David Henry,* in a field near 
the boundary line of Bennington and Hoosick, after 
which an oration will be pronounced and a repast pro- 

* A citizen of Bennington. 



46 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

vided for the citizens assembled." The committee, 
Jonathan Robinson, Eleaser Hawks and David Fay, 
who sent the invitation to Gen. Stark, were all Benning- 
ton men, and the "toasts" given at the "repast provided" 
give something of an idea of the feeling of satisfaction 
in the name which had been given the conflict, as enter- 
tained by the then living veterans, and those who came 
out on "that auspicious day." Gen. David Robinson, 
of Bennington, who was in the battle, arid was now 
equipped with the broad-sword taken from Col. Baum 
on the bloody field, was the marshal of the day, Rev. Dan- 
iel Marsh, of Bennington, offered the prayer, and among 
the toasts were, "Gen. John Stark, the Leonidas of 
America," another "the surviving heroes of Bennington 
battle, though their locks are whitened with man}f win- 
ters, yet their hearts are still warm in their country's 
cause," and the heading of another, "the heroes of lib- 
erty who fell in Bennington battle." 

In 181 2 the anniversary of the Battle of Bennington 
was celebrated in Arlington, Vt., by the "Washington 
Benevolent Society," with others from the county. In 
1828 a celebration was held near Judge Draper's in 
Shaftsbury, Vt. In 1832, a celebration was held at 
North Bennington, Gen. David Robinson, president; 
Col. J. M. Potter and Maj. Norman Blackmer, mar- 
shals, and Hon. Hiland Hall, orator. In 1833 the day 
was celebrated in White Creek, with committees to co- 
operate from White Creek, Shaftsbury, Bennington and 
Hoosick. All other celebrations with one exception, 
that of 1834, were held in Bennington unto this day, 
unless it might be political or party conventions of dif- 
ferent kinds. Thus we have three on the battle ground 




THE "COUNSIL ROOM " 

The engravinsr, cut in the stone mantel one hundred and twenty years ago, shows 
this to be the "Fire Place" of the Council Room where Cols. Seth Warner, Ethan 
Allen and their associates met for consultation before Vermont was recognized as a 
state. & 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 47 

or near it, one in White Creek, N. Y., one each in 
Arlington, Pownal and Shaftsbury, and nearly one hun- 
dred in the town of Bennington, and for the first twenty 
or thirty years after with a procession from the court 
house, near the site of the battle monument, to the old 
"meeting house," which was located near the present 
First church, in their march passing the famous "Cata- 
mount Tavern" and the "Vermont Council of Safety 
room."* Does this look like establishing the "facts," 
as stated in the paper under consideration, which would 
not only intimate, but maintain, there was in early times 
a community of feeling in the two states of New York 
and Vermont as to the battle? Such was not the case, 
and there never has been a disposition on the part of 
New York generally, or counties adjacent to Bennington 
in that direction, except that which was drawn or forced 
out for perpetuating the glorious event of August 16th, 
1777. This is said with all due deference to our neigh- 
bors, among whom there has ever been many conspicu- 
ous examples to the contrary, and we each would have 
agreed to have gone along in "the even tenor of our 
way," with no jealousies or prejudices to parade before 
the world had not the attempt been made to change 
many established facts with reference to the battle and 
the spirit of its celebrations. It has always needed Ben- 
nington and Vermont men, although the battlefield was 
in Hoosick, to start, carry forward, and complete the 
celebration of the battle, when it has been done solely 
on patriotic grounds. The people of New York who 
took so little interest in fighting the battle, have since 

*See plates "Catamount Tavern" and "Council Room." 



4-C THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

taken comparatively but little interest in commemorating 
the victory. 

*In connection with the location of the Bennington 
Battle Monument, Mr. Locke endeavors to make little 
of the fact of a supply of stores and provisions at Ben- 
nington, carrying the idea that the matter of provisions 
has been trumped up and more made of it than is war- 
ranted from the situation at the time, and that it may be 
doubted if there really was a large quantity at Benning- 
ton. In addition to what has been presented by B. H. 
Hall, Esq., and others, and the risk of repeating some- 
thing that may have been offered, an extract bearing 
upon the matter from a letter by Gen. Arthur St. Clair, to 
the President of the Vermont Convention, at Windsor, 
Vt., dated " Otter Creek, July 7th, 1777," the day of the 
battle of Hubbardton, reads, "I am now on my march 
to Bennington, which place I am obliged to make, on 
account of provisions, the enemy having last night pos- 
sessed themselves of Skeensborough." Also, an extract 
from a " circular for aid," " to the commanding officers 
of militia and committees of safety in the State of Mass- 
achusetts Bay — Connecticut," dated " Bennington, July 
8th, 1777." After saying news had come of an engage- 
ment, "the particulars of which we have not yet obtained," 
(the Battle of Hubbardton), it is said, "unless the 
enemy be soon stopped and repelled the whole country 
will fall into their hands, which will prove the ruin 
of the whole country as we have large stores de- 
posited in this place which we shall of necessity be 
obliged to leave to the enemy and retreat down into the 
New England States , which will soon reduce the country 

^Monument plate. 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 49 

to 'cleanness of teeth.'" Signed, "Moses Robinson, 
Col. ; Nath'l Brush, Lt. Col. ; Joseph Farnsworth, 
Dep'ty Commissary ; Elijah Dewey, Captain ; John 
Fay, Chairman." Also, Gen. St. Clair to Gen. Schuy- 
ler, dated, "Dorset, July 8th, 1777." " I am in great 
distress for provisions. If I can be supplied at Manches- 
ter I shall proceed directly for Fort Edward, or Saratoga, 
as circumstances may direct ; if not, I shall be obliged 
to go to Bennington." Ira Allen, Secretary of the Ver- 
mont Council of Safety, in a circular to military officers 
"whom it may concern," dated, "Manchester, July 15th, 
1777," says, after asking for all immediate assistance in 
their power to check the enemy in their advance, "the 
Continental Stores in Bennington seem to be their pres- 
ent aim." The letter of Gen. Burgoyne to Col. Baum, 
dated, "near Saratoga, August 14th, 1777, seven at 
night," does not appear to have received the attention it 
should, touching the matter of provisions. He says to 
Col. Baum, "you will please send off to my camp, as 
soon as you can, wagons, and draft cattle, and likewise, 
such other cattle as are not necessary for your subsis- 
tence. Let the wagons and carts bring off all the flour 
and wheat they can that you do not retain for the same 
purpose. This transport must be under the charge of a 
commission officer." If he refers, as is supposed, to the 
■flour and wheat mentioned in Col. Baum's letter to him 
written from Sancoik, at 9 o'clock a. m., of the same 
day, then Mr. Locke is in error when he says that 
"Baum could make no disposition of these articles," the 
flour and wheat, etc., " but to destroy them." We have 
further from Burgoyne's orderly book, August 17th, 
1777, in speaking of the "expedition which marched to 
4 



50 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

the left, 5 ' "the flour taken from the enemy to be delivered 
into the hands of the commissary here," which must 
have refered to that captured at Sancoik. The reference 
to the destroying of flour and wheat looks like an effort 
to make it appear that Burgoyne's army was not in 
much need of provisions, when in fact, a supply was 
one of the things uppermost in his mind. In the same 
letter Burgoyne says, " I will write you in full to-morrow 
in regard to getting the horses out of the hands of the 
savages," which shows that provisions were of greater 
consequence at this critical time than even the horses, 
which were so much needed, especially as the letter of 
Baum, inquiring as to getting horses from the savages, 
had been written to him the day before. 

In speaking of the name of the battle, and endeavor- 
ing to have everything appear fair in the presentation 
of the subject, he says, "No single instance is recalled 
other than this under consideration, when a battlefield 
has taken the name of a 'hamlet of a dozen houses' 
nine miles away." What are the facts in regard to this 
hamlet, and the town which did give the name to the 
battle fought on the 16th of August, 1777, between Gen. 
Stark and Colonels Baum and Breyman ? The "Vermont 
Historical Magazine," page 136, says, "The population 
of Bennington in 1775 was about 1,500," so it might be 
expected in 1777 to be at least 1,600. In 1800, twenty- 
three years after the battle, "the territory now included 
in the present village of Bennington contained but twenty 
buildings exclusive of barns and sheds," so that by far 
the greater part of the inhabitants, at the time of the 
battle, lived in the vicinity of Bennington Centre, where 
was standing the Continental store house, the remainder 



ADDRESS I "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON. 5 1 

being located principally in the western and northwest- 
ern parts of the town, on the border of the town of 
Hoosick and state of New York. Thus we see the 
hamlet, so contemptuously spoken of as one of a "dozen 
houses," must have contained over one hundred houses, 
as that and the vicinity must have had dwellings to the 
number of nearly, or quite, three hundred, to be in pro- 
portion to the inhabitants. That there may be a correct 
understanding as to the population and dwellings, it may 
be said "the first census was taken in 1791, when the 
number of inhabitants was 2,377," which up to this 
period would be the natural growth of this most impor- 
tant town in this part of the state. Manchester, the 
largest town in the northern part of the county, had a 
population of 1,276 in 1791, or at the time of the battle 
about 800. This comparison of the population of the 
two towns will furnish the reader with a clue to the ani- 
mus of Mr. Locke, and the fairness exhibited in the 
effort to change history, when in speaking of the men 
furnished in the battle he says, "Probably Manchester 
furnished more troops than Bennington." He may have 
had his sensibilities affected b}^ reading Click's* account 
of the "promised land," which he, in common with 
Baum, was anxious to enter, in the slip which he made 
in speaking of Bennington as a "hamlet of a dozen 
houses," when he says, "About twenty miles to the east- 
ward of the Hudson lies the obscure village of Benning- 
ton, a cluster of poor cottages situated in a wild country 
between the forks of the Hoosac." But more than the 

*Thorough research of records in several large libraries of the country does not 
reveal that there was an officer Glick in the British army; therefore, it is thought 
with others, the narrative attributed to him is taken from the story by Rev. George 
Robert Gleig, of England, styled "Saratoga" in which the hero, Macdirk, gives 
nearly verbatim the same account of his experience in the battle. 



52 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

furnishing of the greatest number of men of any town 
in the state during the revolution, and the officers who 
figured so largely in the invasion of Canada, and the 
resisting of Burgoyne, Warner, the Aliens, the Robin- 
sons, the Saffords, the Scotts, the Fays and Herrick, and 
others too numerous to mention, the town was the seat 
of the Council of Safety, supplying a majority of the 
active members, whose counsel and influence were felt 
all through the northern department, and the wisdom 
and sagacity of whom planned most of the operations of 
the Green Mountain boys up to the time of, and which 
culminated in, the grand result of the Battle of Benning- 
ton. Bancroft, in referring to a letter of Gov. Hutchin- 
son to Gov. Pownal, of July 10th, 1765, says: 

"Men of New England, 'of a superior sort,' had obtained of the 
government of New Hampshire a warrant for land down the western 
slope of the Green Mountains, on a branch of the Hoosick, twenty 
miles east of the Hudson river ; formed already a community of sixty- 
seven families in as many houses, with an ordained minister ; had 
elected their own municipal officers ; formed three several public 
schools ; set their meeting-house among their primeval forests of 
beech and maple, and in a word enjoyed a nourishing state which 
springs from rural industry, intelligence, and unaffected piety. They 
called their village Bennington." 

This was twelve years before Burgoyne attempted to 
enter this "coveted" hamlet, the first settlement of which 
had been made but four years before, and which had in- 
creased to the number of one hundred and fifty families 
at the time Mr. Locke speaks of it as "a hamlet of a 
dozen houses." 

Thus far the investigation has been pursued with re- 
ference to topics with which the general reader is con- 
versant, and which needed only to be carefully examined 
and have historical light thrown upon them, to give 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON. 53 

them their deserved standing in history. Mr. Locke 
says, " It has been thought that Warner's regiment held 
Breyman in check and saved Stark's army from defeat, 
but its numbers, only one hundred and fifty, were too 
small to be effective. It now appears that Col. John 
Williams, of White Creek, a New Yorker at the head of 
New York troops, saved the day. This is history: 
Gen. Stark with twenty-two hundred of New Hamp- 
shire, Massachusetts, Vermont and New York troops 
defeated Baum's six hundred; and Col. Williams' New 
York troops, with Warner's one hundred and fifty and 
a portion of Stark's army that he succeeded in ral- 
lying, defeated Breyman's eight hundred." It appears 
Mr. Locke has been a citizen of Hoosick about twenty 
years, coming from a distance and possessing none of 
the bias which largely affected the early inhabitants. 
It is not strange that he should wish to find something 
in history, showing that New York was really "heart 
and hand," in sympathy with those engaged in the Bat- 
tle of Bennington, and in fact did take part with an or- 
ganized body of troops. He bases his argument upon 
material furnished by B. H. Hall, Esq., in the History of 
Rensselaer County, N.Y., published in 1880, and endeav- 
ors to produce historical facts to establish it, although 
he discards many of the facts and conclusions on other 
points, stated in the same paper. The quotation reads 
thus, "It is probable'' that the second battle was begun 
and ' fought in part' by a body of New Yorkers under 
the command of Col. John Williams, of White Creek, 
now Salem." It must be as great a wonder to Mr. Hall 
as anyone else, that such a myth could grow out of his 
undisguised statement, and no doubt a just and practi- 



54 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

cal solution of the Col. Williams episode will be as 
satisfactory to him as to other readers, who desire infer- 
ences drawn from trustworthy premises, or reliable his- 
tory. The position of Mr. Locke being new, and 
the attention of the earlier writers on the events of the 
battle never having been called to it with a claim of like 
importance and with such assurance, it should be exam- 
ined with care and an endeavor to solve with all rea- 
sonableness, the question as to the part, if any, taken by 
Col. Williams in the Battle of Bennington. There have 
been, heretofore, no prejudices of Vermont or the town 
of Bennington, and there should be none now, to inter- 
fere with a reasonable claim made by a sister state to 
any deserved honor in the battle fought in the town of 
Hoosick. There has been a mutual understanding as 
to the forces employed at the time, and New York has 
made no claim heretofore as having taken an active part, 
and the order to Col. Williams has not been understood 
by the best informed historians, to be a military one, but 
one of discovery, or a passport to give him and those 
with him recognition in passing the lines and beyond, 
to a place of comparative safety in Massachusetts. This 
order from the Council of Safety has always had given 
it, it has been supposed, the importance it merited, till 
the remark made by Mr. Hail, in 1880, expressed in 
problematical language, has been taken up and the ef- 
fort made to make it appear a tremendous reality. 
" Possibly," "probable," "doubtless," " probably," 
"beyond a doubt," "it appears to be true," and "undoubt- 
edly," are qualifying terms used in making up the case, 
by Mr. Locke, and if they are not allowed to signify 
more than in their common use, his whole theory falls 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON. ' 55 

to the ground. The order to Col. Williams reads thus : 

STATE OF VERMONT. ^ 

In Council of Safety. ) 

August 1 6th, 1777. 

To Col. John Williams, — Sir: You will proceed with your party to- 
ward the lines, and if the enemy should retreat, you will repair to the 
road leading from St. Cork to Hoosack, and if you make any discovery, 
report to this council ; at the same time, you are to pay proper attention 
to the road leading from Hoosack to Pownal. 

By Order of Council, 

PAUL SPOONER, D. Secretary. 

The wording of the paper is such that no one ac- 
quainted with military tactics, especially of Rev- 
olutionary times, would consider it given to soldiers 
under arms, hurrying to the battle field. Neither 
would the council have given a military order, on the 
day Gen. Stark was to attack the enemy, and it knew 
his intentions so to do, for they had been in consultation 
that very morning, — much less a military order which 
might conflict with Gen. Stark's plans, ''if the enemy 
should retreat." Again, if it had been a military order 
Col. Williams would have been told to report to Gen. 
Stark. The council were too well acquainted with the 
"stuff" Gen. Stark was made of, to tamper with him in 
the way of giving counter orders, or even orders which 
might be construed to coincide with his ideas of the 
military disposition of his forces. The order reads, "if 
the enemy should retreat, you will repair to the road 
leading from St. Cork to Hoosack, and if you make any 
* discovery' report to this council." Was Col. Williams 
at the head of a regiment, company or squad of armed 
men, militia or continental troops, under orders from the 
council to take part in any fighting, and, "if he made 



56 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

any discovery " to report to this council ? The inference 
is too absurd to be entertained and was only grasped 
by Mr. Locke in his desperation, to get hold of some- 
thing to make it appear, that the stare of New York was 
prominent in the defeat of Col. Breyman. Col. Williams 
with his party, was not necessarily within a dozen 
miles of the council room from which the order of pro- 
cedure or permit emanated, as it may have been for- 
warded by an express or courier in answer to advice 
asked relative to his approaching the lines from the north, 
the direction of his home, which is the most rational 
conclusion. That it was not a military order is shown 
by comparison with other customary orders given by the 
Council of Safety about the same time, which are 
couched in nearly the same language, as follows : 

IN COUNCIL OF SAFETY. 

August 28th, 1777. 

To David Fassett, — Sir, You will proceed to Mr. , and make 

strict examination of his improvements or lands adjoining ; and if you 
find any stock or other effects, which you have reason to suspect be- 
longs to any enemical person within the state you may seize the same, 
and cause it to be brought to this council, as soon as may be. 

By Order of the Council, 

IRA ALLEN, Secretary. 
Another order dated, 

August 29th, 1777. 

You are to proceed to the house of Mr. , of Shaftsbury, and 

seize all his lands and effects, of whatsoever name or nature, and 
bring all his writings, together with all his movable effects, to this 
council, excepting two cows, and such other effects as are wanted for 
the support of said family, which you are to leave with the woman, tak- 
ing a proper account of them. 

By Order of Council, 

IRA ALLEN, Secretary. 
Also, 

IN COUNCIL OF SAFETY. 

August 29th, 1777. 

To Mr. Benj. Fassett — Sir. You are hereby directed to proceed to 
Pownal, and bring from some of the Tories that are gone to the enemy, 



address: "the battle of bennington. 57 

or otherwise proved themselves to be enemies to their country, a load of 
sauce, for the use of the wounded prisoners here ; and make returns to 
this council of what you bring, and from whom. You will leave suffi- 
cient for their families. 

Per Order, 
THOMAS CHITTENDEN, President. 

And, 

IN COUNCIL OF SAFETY, ) 
Bennington. £ 

29th of September, 1777. 
To Mr. Wright, and other teams in company — You are to repair 
from this to Paulet, there to apply to the commanding officer, or Lt. 
Hyde, to be loaded with plunder, belonging to Col. Brown, and return 
the same, and deliver it safe, to this council. 

By Order of Council, 

JOSEPH FAY, Secretary. 

One has only to compare the " Williams order" with 
the above four to see that it was an order or permit for him 
and his party, to pass the lines, not with a command "to 
do, to dare and to die," but as a conductor or leader. 
Col. Williams was something of a military man, though 
not much of a fighting one as appears from history, but 
a statesman of considerable experience in his state, in 
the Provincial Congress of which he was a member, and 
an eminent physician, surgeon and patriot. On July 
2d, 1777, six weeks before the Battle of Bennington, he, 
with Cols. Robinson and Warner, of Bennington, were 
addressed in a letter by Gen. St. Clair, to come with 
their regiments, to his aid at Ticonderoga against Gen. 
Burgoyne, and of the result it is said "in the war of the 
revolution," in the History of Rensselaer County, " Cols. 
Warner and Robinson reached Ticonderoga in time to 
take part in its evacuation. It is also 'believed' that 
Col. Williams reached the fort, but whether with or 
without a command is not positively known." That he 



58 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

did not reach the battle field, on the 16th of August, 
1777, in command of New York troops and take part in 
it, appears to be as certain as other historical events con- 
nected with it. 

The history of Washington County, N. Y., was pub- 
lished in 1878, two years before that of Rensselaer, the 
" Revolutionaiy Period" being prepared by Chrisfield 
Johnson, Esq., showing much study and research. He 
treats largely of the part taken by Charlotte County in 
the revolutionary struggle, and of the town of Newperth 
or Salem where Col. Williams resided, but has failed to 
furnish anything from the large collection of papers left 
by him, or any reliable data from other sources, to sus- 
tain the theory that he was engaged in the Battle of Ben- 
nington. He refers to the letter of Gen. St. Clair to 
Cols. Williams, Warner and Robinson, before mentioned, 
and also speaks of the battle of Bennington, claim- 
ing all he could for the County of Washington, in these 
words, in speaking of Gen. Stark as "the old indian 
fighter, grim John Stark," "his men were principally 
from New Hampshire, though there was a considerable 
number from Vermont and Massachusetts, and some also 
from the towns of Cambridge, White Creek, Jackson, 
and Salem, in this County." It is often far easier for 
the historian to make an assertion, than to present trust- 
worthy reasons for making the declaration, as in this in- 
stance, investigation discloses that very few from these 
towns were in the battle, and no facts have been obtained 
to show that an organized body of soldiers or military 
company took part in the fight. On April 22d, 1778, 
Col. Williams wrote to Gov. Clinton, who had informed 
him that Charlotte County would be exempt from a draft 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 59 

which was ordered to fill up the Continental army, "on 
condition of its furnishing the designated number, seventy, 
for the defense of the frontier, that he had called his 
battalion together and could obtain only seventeen vol- 
unteers. He expected to get as many more, but could 
not possibly raise seventy. Enough to make three com- 
panies had moved down the river and others were pre- 
paring to go. Of those who remain, the Colonel said, 
about one-half are disaffected to the American cause, 
and most of these he feared would join the enemy." If 
at this time, several months after the victories of Ben- 
nington and Saratoga, and with the surrender of Bur- 
goyne, the feeling in Charlotte County where Col. 
Williams lived and did so much to sustain what little 
patriotism, comparatively, could be aroused, what must 
have been the coldness of the inhabitants six months 
previous, at the time of the battle, which occured a little 
more than a month after the defeat of Warner at Hub- 
bardton ? It certainly is worth while to candidly weigh 
the question, when an endeavor is made to so add to ac- 
cepted history without proof to justify it, and a reason- 
able regard to surrounding circumstances taken into 
consideration. There must have been a poor showing 
for Gen. Stark, at the time in this locality, and without 
something to bolster the conjecture that " Col. Williams 
with his New York troops," was present at the Battle of 
Bennington, the theory should be repudiated. 

In the county history, speaking of the town of White 
Creek, the home of Col. Williams, it says, "Austin 
Wells, a son of Edmund Wells, the latter a pioneer of 
Cambridge, went in 1777, to assist an older brother in 
Cambridge to remove his family to a place of safety, 



60 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

information having been received that a detachment of 
Burgoyne's army might be expected through the Cam- 
bridge valley. Having taken the family to Williams- 
town, the brothers hastened back, and reached Ben- 
nington in time to join in the closing scenes of the bat- 
tle." With reference to Cambridge, it says, of Mrs. 
Sarah Hall, "She was first married to Thomas Com- 
stock, a descendant of the Puritans, who heroically fell 
in the Battle of Bennington, August 16th, 1777," and in 
another place it says, "some of the settlers left their 
homes through fear of the enemy and their Indian allies," 
and mentions nine, who " are known to have served in 
the American cause." And of Jackson's part, "The 
citizens of this town shared, no doubt, in the great events 
occurring around them and in their midst during the 
War of the Revolution. Doubtless several from this town 
were in service, but no records are found in the town 
upon this point, and the memory of the older people 
does not recall them." 

It will be necessary to further examine the order to 
Col. Williams, to learn its full import, in order to judge 
of the weight to be given it in its relation to the battle of 
Bennington. It purports to be an order of observation, 
or a permit as leader or conductor of a " party " to give 
attention to the roads spoken of, as he journeyed, and 
see if he could make discovery of anything that might 
affect the situation "if the enemy should retreat," but 
otherwise he was not expected to learn or do anything, 
as he proceded on his way. Or, he may have been 
guide or escort to a " party" of refugees, which would 
likely be composed largely of women and children, flee- 
ing from Salem, then Newperth, or White Creek, and 



ADDRESS I "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 6\ 

the country contiguous, to towns in Massachusetts for 
safety. A meeting was held in "Newperth,* 25th, 
July, 1777, John Rowan, Chairman," at which, men 
were appointed from four different parts of the town, 
"to appraise and value all the crops and buildings in 
said district," and the inhabitants were counseled "to 
evacuate their places of residence and move into the 
interior of the state." But, Lieut. Col. St. Leger was 
sent just at this time, by Burgoyne, into the interior with 
an army, so it was unsafe to flee in that direction, and 
we find many from Salem and vicinity in Massachusetts, 
having fled on horseback, and among them Mrs. Wil- 
liams, the wife of Col. Williams, in William stown the 
day after the battle. This is history by tradition as well 
as written, in relation to her and others who had gone at 
this time. A receipt of which the following is a copy, 
is now on file among the papers of Col. Williams, in 
Salem, N. Y. : 

Williamstown, August ye 17, 1777. 
Received of Mrs. Williams, the whole of Doct. Williams 1 amputating 
instruments . 

I say received by me. 

SAM'L PORTER. 

Furthermore it is shown by a receipt, which was 
given by one Hopkins, for a horse impressed into the 
service, to Captain Barnes, who was acting for Col. 
Williams, dated Newperth, August 20th, 1777, that the 
Colonel was still absent from home, and being a phys- 
ician and skilful surgeon was most likely in Williams- 
town with his wife and rest of the party he had escorted 
thither, attending to the wounded and suffering, and if 
need be using the surgical instruments he had brought 

*The home of Col Williams. 



62 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

with him. It would also appear that his duties were 
many, as a surgeon, for it was necessary he should have 
the assistance of his efficient wife in the multitude of his 
engagements, as in the delivery of the instruments men- 
tioned in the receipt of Sam'l Porter, M. D. It is said of 
him, "He was a surgeon in the Continental line, acting 
as such in several of the heaviest battles of the war, and 
especially in the battle of Monmouth," which took place 
June 28, 1778. So, here in Williamstown we find Col. 
Williams, whom Mr. Locke makes the hero of the second 
action between Gen. Stark and Col. Breyman ; Col. 
Williams who lived an active life in Salem, twenty-nine 
years after the Battle of Bennington took place, never 
claiming or intimating he had anything to do in fighting 
it, and of whom it was never claimed he took any part, 
until Mr. Locke moved into Hoosick and had lived sev- 
eral years near the battle ground and had "gone over it 
critically." Then his eye falling upon this hint, before 
quoted, " It is ' probable ' that the second battle was be- 
gun and fought in part by a body of New Yorkers un- 
der the command of Col. John Williams, of White Creek, 
now Salem," he invents a theory and with his character- 
istic energy starts it on its comeiic course. Nor did Col. 
Williams make a report of the attention he gave the 
roads "leading from St. Cork to Hoosick," and "from 
Hoosick to Pownal." Nothing of consequence was dis- 
covered, as he made his way at the head of his party, 
over these roads which was the shortest route to Wil- 
liamstown and towns beyond, though they ran through 
a section peopled with Tories, and passed the home of 
Col. Phister, of Hoosick, who was that day in the battle 
in command of the Tories, at the Tory breastwork, and 






ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 63 

whose prestige influenced many of the faint hearted 

in his neighborhood, to withold their allegiance to the 

American cause. The following letter shows the feeling 

of one of Bennington's noble sons, at the time of which 

we are considering : 

Bennington, Aug. the 20th, 1777. 

Honored Father : — After my duty I take this opportunity to write to 
you, hoping these few lines will find you well, as through the goodness of 
God they leave me and my family. We met with a great deal of 
trouble on the 16th instant. Myself and brother John was preserved 
through a very hot battle. We killed and took according to the best 
account we can get, about one thousand of the enemy. Our loss was 
about thirty or forty. We marched right against their breastworks with 
our small arms, where they fired upon us every half minute, yet they 
never touched a man. We drove them out of their breastworks and 
took their field pieces and pursued and killed great numbers of them. 
We took four or five of our neighbors — two Sniders and two Hornbecks. 
The bigger part of Dutch Hoosick was in the battle against us. They 
went to the Reglers a day or two before the fight. Samuel Anderson, 
was a captain amongst the Reglers, and was in the battle against us. 
Whilst I was gone my wife and children went off and got down to Wil- 
liamstown. After I got home I went after them and found them to 
Landlord Simons.* I have got them home again. My wife was very 
much tired out. She had four children with her. Belindy was forced 
to run on foot. We soon expect the enemy will come upon us again and 
what shall I do with my family I know not. 

JOSEPH RUDD. 

It should not, perhaps, seem so very strange that so 
few of those in the state of New York, on the line of 
Vermont, took part in the defence of Bennington, as 
their sympathies had been for years with their own state 
in the "Hampshire Grant controversies," and the influ- 
ential men, especially of the town of Hoosick, were cast- 
ing their influence against us. There was an organiza- 
tion among the Tories, and none in the interest of Ver- 
mont, or the American Colonies. 

We see the magnanimity and generosity of Mr. Locke, 
for the town of his adoption, in the filling up of the ranks 

* Col. Simonds. 



6\ THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

of Gen. Stark, by multiplying those who " probably" 
joined his command, as the number is far greater than 
is warranted by the facts of history or tradition ; and by 
his zeal for the glory of his town and state, in cherishing 
eve^thing that has a semblance of show as a thing of 
reality. 

In his account of the battle, he says: "the accounts 
agree that the Baum action closed at five o'clock in the 
afternoon," "that soon after intelligence was received 
that there was a large reinforcement within two miles on 
the march, and that Warner's regiment came up at the 
time. So much is beyond question, but of the Breyman 
engagement most of the best writers have been unsatis- 
factorily brief, or entirely in error. At this point some 
of the later writers, copying from Breyman's, Glick's, 
and Reidsell's accounts, are enabled to throw some light 
on the second engagement, and these accounts, supple- 
mented by some facts -published, it is believed, for the 
first time in ihe History of Rensselaer County, dispel 
almost entirely the obscurity that has been over the 
Breyman defeat." This reference to "Breyman's, 
Glick's and Reidsell's accounts," is thrown in, it would 
seem, as a blind or ruse, as is sometimes done by writers 
to uphold a weak proposition, for in the account of nei- 
ther is there anything relating to the battle but what has 
heretofore been presented and properly dwelt upon in 
history, and the "light" of which, if permitted to cast 
its radiance "on this second engagement," shows con- 
clusively that Col. Williams was not with New York 
troops in the second battle, and that the material for 
sustaining such a "theory" will have to come from other 
sources. To support and strengthen his cherished the- 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 65 

ory he quotes "Stone," saying, "Breyman reached the 
bridge at three o'clock in the afternoon." He comments 
on it, saying "this time three o'clock is to be noted," as 
Stark in his official report to the New Hampshire Coun- 
cil says Col. Nichols "commenced the attack precisely 
at three o'clock in the afternoon" on Baum. Breyman 
arrived at the bridge (over the White Creek stream) at 
Sancoik precisely at the opening of the attack on Baum. 
It would seem that the time, three or five o'clock, for the 
commencement of the second battle is used in making 
up the case, just as either one is thought best suited for 
the argument or point to be gained. Upon this corner- 
stone, that "Breyman arrived at Sancoik at three o'clock, 
p. m.," he goes on to build his theory, while all that is 
reliable in history makes the time later. He adopts this 
time for his own convenience instead of "half past four 
in the afternoon," the time stated by Col. Breyman him- 
self in his account of the part he took in the battle, and 
whose accuracy is established by another reference to 
the time in the same report, when he says in speaking 
of his halt near Cambridge, "Toward two o'clock in the 
afternoon Col. Skeene sent two men to me with the re- 
quest that I would detach one officer and twenty men to 
occupy the mill of St. Coyk, as the rebels showed signs 
of advancing on it." These men were to be sent for- 
ward in advance of Breyman's main body, and he did 
send, as he says, "sixty grenadiers and Chasseurs and 
twenty Yagers. I followed as quickly as possible with 
the rest. Some of the ammunition carts again broke 
down on the road. I reached the mill at half past four." 
Nothing can well be more certain than that this is the 
correct time of Breyman's arrival at Sancoik, which is 

5 



66 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

further corroborated by Gen. Burgoyne's orderly book 
of date August 26th, when there had been opportunity 
to fix the time most accurately, when he says, "The 
next cause (of failure) was the slow movement of Lieut. - 
Col. Breyman's corps, which from bad weather, bad 
roads, tired horses, and other impediments stated by 
Lieut. -Col. Breyman, could not reach 24 miles from 
eight in the morning of the 15th to four in the afternoon 
of the 16th." But the theory has been adopted, and 
now circumstances and events must be made to fit to- 
gether or bend, so as to clothe the skeleton and make it 
a thing to be admired as a model of symmetry, beauty 
and truth. The position taken, is, " scarcely had Brey- 
man advanced fifteen hundred paces from the bridge 
when he descried a strongly armed force on an eminence 
towards the west," and " sent ahead some scouts." As 
he was marching almost directly east, he could not have 
" descried a strongly armed force on an eminence 
towards the west" and sent ahead, which would have 
been toward the east, some scouts, who were received 
"with a volley of musketry," but the account of Breyman 
who knew of what he affirmed, is the correct one, viz., 
" that he had not gone far from the bridge, when I no- 
ticed through the woods a considerable number of armed 
men (some of whom wore blouses and some jackets), 
hastening towards an eminence on my left flank." In 
both letters of Gen. Stark to the New Hampshire Coun- 
cil and Gen. Gates, one of August 18th, and the other 
August 22nd, 1777, he says, "I received intelligence that 
there was a large reinforcement within two miles of us, 
on their march, which occasioned us to renew our at- 
tack." Mr. Locke asks, relying on three o'clock as be- 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 67 

ing the time, "What 'strongly armed f orce ' was this 
that at this time, was on ' an eminence ' west of Brey- 
man and of the only road leading to Baum's camp? " 
It is easily answered and without any perversion of his- 
tory, but in accordance with what actually occurred. 
There was no force "on an eminence 'west' of Brey- 
man," when he came upon the field, near five o'clock, 
p. m., but " a considerable number" of Stark's men in 
shirt sleeves and frocks, were " hastening towards an 
eminence on Breyman's left flank," sufficient opportun- 
ity having been given after the intelligence of his ap- 
proach was received, for the hurrying together of those 
who had pursued the flying Hessians, meaning to cap- 
ture or kill them all. They had gone, as the old soldiers 
in their manuscript accounts have stated, far beyond the 
general battle field, and were in a situation to collect 
together on Breyman's approach. As they could not 
expect to withstand his army in front, they fired down 
upon him volleys from the hill whither many had col- 
lected, doing good execution in their "blouses and jack- 
ets," " and poured a deadly fire into his ranks." Others 
on Breyman's approach had collected in the old log 
house near which were posted his cannon, and made as 

j best they could a stand against the best soldiers Bur- 
goyne could send to reinforce Baum, but all in vain. 
Breyman further says, " The cannon were posted on a 
road where there was a log house. This we fired upon, 

; as it was occupied by the rebels." With regard to this, 
from a manuscript statement of Benjamin G. Arnold of 

I Pownal, now eighty-two years old, we copy, " I have 
often heard my grandfather, Ebenezer Arnold, who said 
he lived at the time of the Battle of Bennington west of 



68 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

the Baum encampment, on the north side of the road 
leading to St. Coik or North Hoosick, in a log house. 
He often told of a cannon ball going through the roof, 
and that the firing took off the roof. He said Stark's 
men were in the house when Breyman came up, and 
went out and fired on his troops and that they fired down 
into the British as they came along/' We learn from 
Thompson's Vermont, "They opened an incessant fire 
from their artillery and small arms, which was for a 
while, returned by the Americans with much spirit, but, 
exhausted and overpowered by numbers, we at length 
began slowly, but in good order, to retreat before the 
enemy, disputing the ground inch by inch." Breyman 
continued advancing up the road with cannon in front 
clearing the way, supported by wings of infantry on 
either side. At this critical time, as Gen. Stark says, 
" Col. Warner's regiment came up fresh, who marched 
on and began the attack afresh, which put a stop to their 
career. We soon rallied, and in a few minutes the ac- 
tion was very warm and desperate, which lasted until 
night. We used their cannon against them, which 
proved of great service to us. At sunset we obliged 
them to retreat a second time, we pursued them till dark, 
when I was obliged to halt for fear of killing our men." 
This language of Gen. Stark, when he speaks of 
obliging them to retreat at sunset, the second time, and 
then pursuing them till dark does not tally well with the 
theory that Breyman went little or "no farther than 
Sancoik." The ground from the hill beyond the pres- 
ent Walloomsac station and east for at least a half mile 
was fought over and over again, and the ending of the 
fight was some distance east of North Hoosick accord- 



ADDRESS : "THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON." 69 

ing to Brey man's report, which agrees with that of Gen. 
Stark, when he says, "I retreated on the approach of 
darkness, destroyed the bridge, had as many of the 
wounded as possible brought thither that they might not 
be captured, and after a lapse of half an hour, in com- 
pany with Col. Skeene, pursued my march and reached 
Cambridge towards twelve o'clock at night." It must be 
that every soldier of the "party" under Col. Williams 
that fought so bravely was killed, or it would have been 
noted in Salem, and the roll of honor of those who died 
on "that eminence towards the west" would have been 
recorded or been handed down by tradition, but there is 
not an iota of evidence to substantiate such a fiction. 
And further, Col. Williams, if anything of the kind did 
take place, not only failed to report it to the council, but 
so far forgot the valor of his noble men as ever to men- 
tion the matter in a public or private way, or even claim 
that he himself was in the battle. He was a man of ex- 
cellent ability, "his legislative career lasted nearly twenty 
years," and he filled, with high credit, offices of 
judicial trust. He lived nearly thirty years after the 
battle not twenty miles from the battlefield, dying in 
1806, and yet there is nothing among his papers, or 
anything authentically known, that he was aware of the 
important part ascribed to him and his "party" in the 
theory presented by Mr. Locke. Had Col. Williams, 
with an armed company, been in the battle, and done 
the execution here claimed for them, they would no 
more have escaped the notice of Gen. Stark or those 
who early wrote of the engagement than did the rein- 
forcement of Col. Warner's troops, without which the 
day would have been lost, or even that of Blucher at the 



70 THE VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 

battle of Waterloo, and the service would have received 
all the praise and glory which a grateful people could 
bestow. Is it reasonable to expect that any number or 
manipulation of conjectures can make a mere theory a 
real transaction, or should they give an imaginary com- 
pany of New York troops immortal glory? 

The endeavor has been to make this review with all 
due consideration to the feelings of those most nearly 
interested, and for the sake of history and its vindication, 
and it is now submitted to the public with a desire that 
it may receive, only, that regard which its mreit de- 
mands. 

In conclusion, it may be said the states of New 
Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont, have hereto- 
fore amicably understood their relative positions and 
importance in the glorious defeat of the enemy on the 
16th of August, 1777, and in accordance with such an 
understanding have co-operated at all times, but more 
especially of late have their longings and aspirations 
been realized in the construction of the grand and im- 
posing battle monument, standing upon the territory 
coveted by Burgoyne, towards which each state munifi- 
cently contributed, and the erection of which was so no- 
bly and generously endorsed by this great nation in the 
gift of over fifty thousand dollars towards its completion. 







THE BENNINGTON BATTLE MONUMENT. 

This monument is located near the site of the Continental store house, at Benning- 
ton Centre, Vt., two hundred and eighty-five feet above the valley below. It was the ob- 
jective point of the detachment sent bv Gen. Burgoyne for provisions, cattle, carriages, 
etc., which resulted in the ''Battle of Bennington." It is thirty-seven feet square at 
the base, is built of blue gray magnesian lime stone (Dolomite) and rock faced. The 
height of the stone work is 301 feet 10% inches. It is surmounted by a bronze-rodded 
head and gilt star, measuring four feet six inches, making the entire altitude 306 feet 
4^ inches. The grand lookout floor is gained by rising 417 steps of easy ascent, 
the stairway being of wrought and cast iron. It was designed by J. Ph. Rinn of Bos- 
ton. The corner stone was laid August 16, 1S87. The cap stone was placed Novem- 
ber 25, 18S9. The monument was dedicated August 19, 1S91. 



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